Camera flashes go off amid hearty cheers whenever actors and actresses appear on the red carpet. Here at the Puchon Gymnasium on July 19th, a spectacular opening ceremony marked the beginning of the annual Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival.
PiFan, the largest genre film festival in Asia, started in 1997 with the purpose of promoting Korean films the world over.
Now in its 16th year, this year’s PiFan was held until July 29th under the theme of “love, fantasy and adventure,” featuring various film genres such as horror, mystery, thriller, fantasy and sci-fi. A total of 231 films from 47 countries were shown during the ten-day festival period. Compared to last year, this is an increase in scale, with nine more films from 14 additional countries. The film event provided a chance to see a variety of movies, which are seldom found in one place.
- PiFan gives the only opportunity to enjoy short films, so it was really a good chance to do so.
- Usually, it’s rather hard to see films of various countries, other than American flicks. But here, sections are classified into countries with detailed information. I could watch various genres of films from many different countries, which was greatly helpful.
Compared to 2011, the number of viewers increased more than 10 percent, as tickets for 118 film screenings out of 334 ones were sold out. This is considered a significant result, given the declining number of viewers at most film festivals, both at home and abroad. Here’s director Baek Seung-gi who won the Fujifilm Eterna Award at this year’s PiFan with his film《Super Virgin》.
Compared to major domestic film festivals that I’ve ever attended, this film showcase has the clearest concept, which attracts a number of film buffs. This is the most energetic and dynamic film festival. I was so thrilled that I thought I made the right choice to become a director. This is the first time I felt that way since I started to produce films. It would be sad if I participated in the film festival without my own movie next year. I find myself already hoping to prepare for a new film.
It looks like PiFan gives pleasure to directors as well as audience members. Director Maja Milos, who came to South Korea with her film《Clip》, says she feels something special about the PiFan.
PiFan is a well known film festival in Serbia. I participated in many film events in a number of countries. In January, I was invited by PiFan. I was so happy that I told people around me. Many movie professionals in different countries congratulated me, saying that they’re aware of the film festival. I’m filled with emotion as my film is screened at PiFan. I appreciate it. I’m glad, indeed.
There is nothing better than watching horror, thriller, mystery and hard-core films to beat the sweltering heat in mid-summer. It comes as no surprise that PiFan is becoming increasingly popular with visitors hoping to enjoy the summer. Here’s Yu Ji-seon, the programmer at PiFan.
PiFan shows highly provocative and hard-core films, so we have an ambulance waiting every year. Some films are creepy and shocking, but that’s what the visitors are expecting. They come here to enjoy such movies. It is a film festival that sweeps away the summer heat.
It is spine-chilling just hearing the sepulchral sound and the voice trembling with fear. This Korean movie entitled《Horror Stories》was the opener of this year’s PiFan.
It is an omnibus film with five horror-themed episodes jointly produced by six Korean directors: Min Gyoo-dong, Jeong Beom-sik, Im Dae-woong, Hong Ji-young, Kim Gok and Kim Seon. The film has been invited to the Casa Asia section at the 45th Sitges International Film Festival to be held in Spain in October. Here again is Ms. Yu.
Led by Director Jeong Beom-sik, the omnibus film brings together shorts by six local directors, who are masters of horror flicks. It is really scary. Film critics agree on that, and the directors take much pride in it.
This year’s PiFan is aimed at reviewing the results it has produced for the last 15 years, and making a new leap forward. It screened more explicit, more provocative and more audacious films to focus on its true color. That is why this year’s edition opened with《Horror Stories》 that struck fear in the hearts of the viewers. Meanwhile, Takashi Miike’s《For Love’s Sake》, based on a Japanese manga series with the same title, was chosen as the closing film for the film festival. Let’s listen again to Ms. Yu.
A movie by Japanese director Takashi Miike, the master of genre films, closed the festival. He has had a great influence over the Asian genre film scene for decades. This year, the world-renowned director came to Puchon with two films : 《Ace Attorney》and《For Love’s Sake》. The latter is the director’s masterpiece combining action, musical and drama.
《For Love’s Sake》, a high-school flick, describes Ai’s love for Makoto, who is branded as a bad student. Ai helps Makoto transfer to another school and works at a coffee shop to give financial help to Makoto. Impressed by Ai’s great care and devotion, Makoto begins to change. Thanks to the director’s uniquely incisive sensibility, this film greatly appealed to the viewers. PiFan featured more than ten sections, including “Puchon Choice,” where the viewers could explore gemlike works.
The “Vision Express” section offered new genre films from all over the world, while the “Strange Homage” section was dedicated to the masters of the world cinema scene. Various other sections that mesmerized the audiences included “Forbidden Zone,” “AniFanta,” “Fantastic Short Films,” “Special Programs” and “Retrospectives.”
In particular, Yoshitaka Mori’s film《Space Brothers : Let’s Go to Space, Brother》was sold out just three minutes after tickets went on sale.
The movie, based on a Japanese manga, is about two brothers and their dream and fantasy about outer space. It won the award for best picture at the section for feature films, “Puchon Choice.” In addition, tickets for such movies as《Blind Alley》,《Rare Exports : A Christmas Tale》,《You Don’t Get Life a Second Time》,《Extraterrestrial》and《Chillerama》were all sold out. Festival organizers inserted Quick Response or QR Code in the main poster and various facilities, boasting Korea’s status of information and technology powerhouse. This provided the visitors with extensive information and interesting contents to enhance the position of an innovative PiFan. Visitors, for their part, could choose from various genres of films that were unfolded in one place. The movies mixed with love, adventure, fantasy and fear engrossed even those who usually don’t like fantasy films.
- I watched the Japanese film《Space Brothers : Let’s Go to Space》, Brother.” Online tickets were all sold out, so I purchased a ticket in advance at the box office. PiFan shows many horror films, but the film I saw was really touching. I liked the movie.
- I saw a documentary film about octopus Paul, which correctly predicted results at the last World Cup. The film was very interesting in that it portrayed the life of an octopus. Here at PiFan, you can enjoy new and diverse kinds of films like this. That’s why I like this film festival.
You may think genre films are only for film enthusiasts. Once you visit the film festival, however, you will realize you’ve become one of them. This is PiFan’s mysterious appeal. Special events at night as well as street performances held between the film screenings beckon the visitors.
One of the wonderful things about film festivals is that you can meet your favorite directors and actors or actresses. Visitors of this year’s PiFan were delighted to have the chance to do so through the event “Gala Night.” Here is programmer Yu Ji-seon.
“Gala Night” is a sort of the red carpet event that is usually enjoyed only at the opening and closing ceremonies. There were four to five such events joined by citizens during the festival period. Citizens were able to be with famous stars, including foreign entertainers, at the event venue in front of Puchon City Hall. People loved this event. Participating stars included Taiwanese actress Michelle Chen, Taiwanese actor Jimmy Lin, Korean pop singer and actress Jang Nara, Director Oh Young-du, who is known as his film “Young Gun in the Time” and Korean actress Choi Song-hyun.
The audiences broke into ecstatic applause when Serbian director Maja Milos and actress Isidora Simijonovic appeared at “Gala Night” at 8 p.m., Thursday, July 26th. Here is Isidora Simijonovic.
I love PiFan. I’m glad to see all the people I’ve met here smiling. I sent my mom a text message that I could even live here. I’m having such a good time.
Maja Milos’ 《Clip》is one of the most provocative films that belong to the “Forbidden Zone” segment. It depicts the life and love of a teenage girl who goes through a stormy period of adolescence. The film’s explicit sex scenes are quite shocking. Yet, it was favorably reviewed as it approached teenagers’ anxiety in a realistic way.
- I watched the attention-grabbing film because I was curious about it. It was a story of a teenage girl named Jasna. I was very shocked by the film’s visual stimulation. Most movie theaters in Korea screen Hollywood movies or a few famous European films. I was glad to see a Serbian film here in Puchon.
- It was a good experience to see a suggestive film at PiFan. Such movies are seldom shown at other movie theaters.
The 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival ended in great success, featuring a variety of good-quality work. It vividly manifested its unique identify through “PiFan-like” films, which the viewers fully enjoyed. It showed plenty of films dedicated to cinephiles, while presenting films with more general themes for new fans, keeping the film selection in balance. As the nation’s representative genre film event, PiFan has created a new trend of escaping the summer heat. We’re looking forward to the 17th PiFan, which will hopefully move beyond Asia and develop into the world’s largest fantastic film showcase, buoyed by this year’s remarkable outcome.